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April 11, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg Offers Citizenship Lesson as “Gift to the Nation” in Election Year

In this election year of 2012, Colonial Williamsburg is providing at no cost online access to its electronic field trip, “The Will of the People,” from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30. This is the second year Colonial Williamsburg has provided online access to one of its electronic field trips at no cost to support its mission of bringing the study of citizenship and our founding democratic principles to the nation and around the world. Last September, more than 5,680 registrants representing approximately 161,000 students signed up to receive “A More Perfect Union,” the story of what happened when the newly drafted U.S. Constitution was sent to the states for ratification.

“The Will of the People” examines the presidential election of 1800, one of the most bitter in U.S. history, and provides a surprising lesson for a 21st-century student. Thomas Jefferson explains how negative campaigning, partisan politics and contested elections have been a part of our political system since the earliest days of the republic.

Colonial Williamsburg is providing “The Will of the People” electronic field trip streaming video, teacher guide and student Web activities free of charge to any school, homeschool family or individual interested in learning more about the U.S. presidential election process. To register, log on to http://giftnation.history.org/ and follow the instructions. The program will be available free from Sept. 1 to 30.

“We’ve got this notion today that it wasn’t until after the founding generation that things got nasty in American politics,” said Bill White, the Royce R. and Kathryn M. Baker vice president for productions, publications and learning ventures for Colonial Williamsburg. “Lies, half truths, rumors, demonstrations and violence dominated that contest, and then as now, the ugliness was generated not by the candidates, but by their surrogates.”

The men we now refer to as our Founding Fathers were not loved and respected by all their fellow citizens. “The Will of the People” explains that issues of military spending, the power of the federal government, taxation and the deficit were front and center 200 years ago, just as they are today. And, the disagreements of the citizens were at least as lively as today.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Electronic Field Trips are meticulously researched, non-partisan programs that tell the stories of our country’s founding and span a broad range of historical subjects from colonial times to the present. These distance learning programs, written and produced by Colonial Williamsburg, are created especially for grades 4–8 and are broadcast one Thursday each month from October through April at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Eastern time on participating public television stations and cable channels across the country.

For teachers, each electronic field trip is supported with multi-disciplinary lesson plans, interactive student resources, program scripts and other materials to help teachers make history exciting and relevant for students. These Web-based resources have been developed by teachers, historians and museum educators and address national standards for civics education and 21st-century skills as well as state standards for social studies, technology and language arts. Selected programs also correlate to additional state standards.

The National Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recognized Colonial Williamsburg with an Emmy for “The Will of the People” in the Interactivity category in 2009.

After September, “The Will of the People” will be available for $120 per school as part of Colonial Williamsburg’s 2012 – 2013 Electronic Field Trip Series. Registration for the complimentary program is open from April 11 through the month of September.

For more information about electronic field trips, visit www.history.org, call 1-800-761-8331, or email eftsupport@cwf.org. Colonial Williamsburg’s Electronic Field Trip series is supported in part by the William and Gretchen Kimball Young Patriots Fund.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit center for history, citizenship and democracy, encouraging audiences at home and around the world to learn from the past. Colonial Williamsburg demonstrates its commitment to expanding its thought-provoking programming as well as its dedication to cultural and historical authenticity on-site and online through the preservation, restoration and presentation of 18th-centry Williamsburg and the study, interpretation and teaching of America’s founding principles. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at www.colonialwilliamsburg.com.

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown
(757) 220-7280



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